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Lupus Research Institute Awards $3.6 Million for Novel Studies Driving Wide-Ranging New Science in Lupus
Date:2/15/2012

/b>, Pennsylvania State University: "We recently found evidence for a link between inherited variations in sensitivity to male sex hormones (androgens) and some aspects of lupus in men. Our LRI study is exploring for the first time how differences in sensitivity to androgens might promote autoimmunity by allowing B cells to more easily switch to production of disease-causing autoantibodies. Since these same hormones are present in much lower amounts in women, we're also looking at whether such inherited differences in androgen sensitivity might influence the course of lupus in women."

Understanding Organ Damage

Three investigators will explore how the lupus immune system damages specific organs.  

  • Dr. Meggan Mackay, The Feinstein Institute of Medical Research: "This brain imaging study is the first testing whether autoantibodies against neurotransmitter receptor NMDA impair its activation. With Feinstein neuroimaging experts, we're using a new radiochemical tracer that binds the NMDA receptor to visualize receptor activity in the brains of lupus patients with this autoantibody. If successful, the technology will be developed as a new biomarker to diagnose neuropsychiatric lupus and monitor therapy response."
  • Dr. Mariana Kaplan, University of Michigan: "Our study lays the groundwork for therapies preventing cardiovascular disease in lupus. We're building on LRI-funded work showing high-density lipoprotein (HDL), 'good cholesterol,' is a risk factor for lupus-related cardiovascular disease. We're investigating in patients whether inflammation damages HDL, disrupting its protective effects on the heart and blood vessels."
  • Dr. Sandra Wolin, Yale University: "How does sunlight cause lupus skin flares? Many patients with lupus of the skin produce antibodies against a protein, Ro60, which normally binds RNA i
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